Ideas for Ed Tech Entrepreneurs: Creating Scalable Business Models & Team Compensation Plans

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By Emily Goligoski (Contributing Writer, Women 2.0) Educational tech startups, take note: while your accomplishments in both social benefits and development breakthroughs may be massive, you have quite a few calls to make about financial and employee reward models on your way there. Such was the takeaway at “Inside the Entrepreneur’s Studio,” a breakout at the New School Venture Fund Summit this week. Words to the wise included:

Decide whether to operate for profit or not-for-profit (do note that these are different structures and don’t just refer to your first year performance). Greg Gunn, co-founder of education software company Wireless Generation, asked entrepreneurs to consider whether private or foundation capital will be more attainable based on their missions. Gunn had to consider which would allow his company to bring on the technical talent it needed when is started to build larger data systems. “Programmers are used to being compensated with equity packages and significant salaries,” he reminded participants. What to do? Figure out what else—including valuable industry introductions and merit-based rewards--to offer employees when cash isn’t as readily available as you might like. Create employment packages accordingly. Kristin Richmond, CEO and co-founder of Revolution Foods, acknowledged that many people take a financial hit when they come to work for the healthy meal organization. In lieu of huge compensation packages, she looks for people who are committed to the idea of nutrition education and gives each employee partial ownership. The effect is a more focused team that is committed to providing more meals, and, as a result, more jobs.

The promises of job and market growth are just a few things that can encourage members of a new venture. Another, Gunn says, is being able to communicate the value they bring. After analyzing recent data, he was able to tell his employees that for every day that each of them came to work, one more kid learned to read because of the company’s tools.

About the guest blogger: Emily Goligoski is a digital strategist and San Francisco-based writer. She has helped the International Olympic Committee, Intel, and Adobe reach consumer tech audiences through research, online engagement, and blogger evangelist programs. Emily produces a video interview series for Women 2.0 and is a regular education and technology contributor to Mashable, The Huffington Post, and GigaOm.